09 September 2004 | Sam Fortescue
Chief police officers have moved a step closer to creating centres of procurement excellence that could also include more national contracts for the service.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is to make recommendations once it receives a major report on procurement in early October.
The recommendations would then be put to the Chief Constables' Council before the end of the year.
Paul Wade, secretary of Acpo's procurement sub-committee, said the report was likely to favour of the centres.
He said examples of how they might be set up were already functioning for some commodities. For example, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary specialises in IT buying.
Other examples are south Wales (goods and services), London and the south east (professional services) and the Police Information Technology Organisation for IT.
A police procurement strategy has been in place since 2000 and is already deemed to have saved around £40 million.
But Wade said Sir Peter Gershon's review of government efficiency had forced a reappraisal. "Police forces are pulled in two directions: there is a drive to get value by purchasing at national level, but smaller forces are less attractive to suppliers."
Smaller forces will often decide to go it alone, because large national suppliers are unwilling to deliver goods at a low price to forces in remote and large areas.